Innovating as a Med-Ed-Tech Entrepreneur
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Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Welcome. Today, we have a very intriguing and special guest, Chase DiMarco. And he is really interesting because he is a physician entrepreneur, and started his entrepreneurial journey during medical school, which is extremely rare. So, I started my entrepreneurial journey during med school, and I thought I was the only one, but I’m really happy. And I’ve been following him for a while, looking at his work in the medical education and technology space. In particular, we’ll talk about the inefficiencies. And some of the solutions that he’s creating with his podcast with his app, his books, his products. So I’m going to bring up his bio here and introduce him. So, see, Chase DiMarco holds a Master’s MBA, and he is a medical education podcaster, author and speaker. Most recently, he founded Find A Rotation, which connects students to preceptors in a variety of clinical settings. He’s currently based out of Las Vegas, and today you’re going to hear about all the great work he’s done on a lot of these different platforms. And so without ado, I’ll welcome Chase to the show. Welcome.
Chase DiMarco: Thank you so much, Dr. Loo, great to be here. I did want to clarify, MD PhD candidate, not quite there, but hopefully soon.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: But you will be so. So welcome. And I’m really curious about your journey, especially, it’s really rare to find med students who are entrepreneurs. As I mentioned, I started my entrepreneurial journey very early. But that was kind of rare. So what made you decide to focus on these new creative ideas rather than, on top of your heavy course load studying for exams, and that sort of thing?
Chase DiMarco: It was a long and convoluted pathway. I was working on my Master’s in Educational Psychology when I started med school. And I think I finished it the first semester, and started working on my PhD work at the same time, which was quite a large feat to try. I just kind of realized at that point in time that I wasn’t happy with the instruction I was getting in certain classes. And I was in the Student Government, I was a class representative, I wanted to help out the other classmates that were also struggling. So I started my first sort of venture, which was the website, FreeMedEd.
So FreeMedEd was just a repository of information, I wasn’t really creating content, because I didn’t know enough at that time to do so. So I would collect free quizzes and YouTube videos and stuff online, and put it all into one succinct package. So students could really use just that one source instead of wasting time going out and searching for other things to supplement their education. And then around 2018, I came out with my first course. And then 2019, came out with two podcasts, about to start a third one pretty soon here. I think the end of 2019 was also when we published the book Read This Before Medical School, which all of this material is just trying to combine the aspects of medical education with effective learning styles and the psychology of learning and some advanced techniques too that usually just don’t get brought up. And then that led to eventually the creation of Find A Rotation. So it’s been a long path and kind of covers everything in education to some degree or another.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s awesome. Because you’re at the forefront, you’re seeing it, you’re sitting there in class, and you’re like, how do I best apply this? Med school is like drinking from a firehose, and it’s like you’re in the frontlines, and it’s so cool. What’s really interesting is that you mentioned aggregation of data. So, I remember in med school, we had my first year of med school before Ethernet became mainstream, we had to bike or take the bus to the school library to watch video courses on VHS. And so, and dial up streaming was so slow. So we’ve progressed so much. And now we’re aggregating data now, we’re organizing it. And now we’re creating. So what were some of your motivations? Any frustrations or just unmet needs that you saw? Just tell us about your experience.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Tons of frustrations, tons of unmet needs. I would say when we’re talking about more the basic science type material, like the first two years, that was really a focus on trying to make multimedia content that was freely or at least affordably available to the masses. And to use evidence based teaching techniques. We always talk about evidence-based medicine, but there’s a lot of science behind teaching too. And most, at least, in my experience, most medical teachers don’t really know that because they weren’t taught that way. And they weren’t taught psychology and education. So they teach the way that they were taught.
And for those really good ones that can shape themselves according to how well the audience is doing, their student population, in that case. They can progress to a stronger teaching base than a lot of others, but many don’t get to that. So I wanted to make content that really focused on how we learn, why we learned certain ways, and then how to implement those techniques. And a lot of that came into play with the Medical Mnemonist Podcast, which you can see on my back wall here. So we started with education, educational psychology, learning psychology, and cognitive psychology, but also using medical mnemonics and advanced memory techniques. Which you tend to see a lot more nowadays in the past few years, with videos and like, Sketchy Picmonic, these companies that are coming out with really cool material. And there’s just a lot of science behind why that works. So we want to teach students as much as possible about learning, and once they know those skills, then they can have more self-directed learning.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s awesome. What you’re doing actually reminds me of Sal Khan, when he was creating Khan Academy. And he started out with just wanting to create videos for people to help people learn better and just learn more efficiently. And that when I was going to school was basically just rote memorization, and just reciting and regurgitating and making an A on the test. But these days really requires you to synthesize, organize, apply things, there’s a lot of different ways to answer the questions. I think you’re using a lot of mind and brain and learning hacks, so it’s easier, more efficient to learn, and it makes learning more fun as well.
So, what have been some of your key revelations building these podcasts and creating this material and how it relates to education and learning?
Chase DiMarco: So many! Well, first, I do want to say that Sal Khan was one of my inspirations. So I’m glad you brought that up. Khan Academy is awesome. I really wanted to make something like the Khan Academy of Medical Education, which apparently they did start doing with some members that are now in osmosis. But I don’t think it really took off for the medical community too much yet. But there’s been, well, there’s a lot of learning with the technical side of things, just audio editing, video editing, different techniques for lighting, or what equipment you need a lot of just learning curves that you kind of have to experience. You can study all you want, but the theory is not going to really teach you the experiential learning that you really need.
And then actually interviewing is something that I found that I love doing. Now, I’m pretty much an introvert. I don’t even like talking to people on the phone. But when I can have an interesting conversation with someone through a podcast or interview, it’s much more intriguing. I know that I’m getting some benefit from it, because I’m learning from them. I’m providing benefits to them by sharing their information with the audience. And hopefully the audience is learning a lot from it too. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be listening to it.
So we have a lot of different memory champions and mnemonics instructors, and again, cognitive psychologists on the Medical Mnemonist podcast. But then, well, this is an old image now, it used to be called The One Minute Preceptor podcast. Now it’s Rounds to Residency. So we cover more the second two years of med school when you’re doing your clinical rotations, and then early residency. So that’s interviewing physicians in every different specialty and geographic demographic location and just trying to give students more experience in a wider array of clinical rotations and specialties than they might be able to get from their own school. Because that was something that I found very difficult in my schooling, it was a small school, very limited on certain resources. So, you can only try out a couple of specialties. Or, if you might like this specialty, but that particular preceptor wasn’t that great, you’re not going to know what you’re the best fit for. So at least hopefully we can provide some audio guidance through that podcast. And then that led to also starting the clinical rotations platform with Find A Rotation so they can actually try to find rotations that might be outside of their schooling.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Tell us more about the inspiration for Find A Rotation? Is it more geared towards US based medical schools? Or is it based more on International reach? Tell us more about what was the inspiration for that?
Chase DiMarco: Good question. So I would say that both can benefit from it, although there is more of a need, generally for IMGs, FMGS, international or foreign medical students and graduates. And that’s just because we come from smaller schools. I went to a Caribbean school, we don’t have as many resources available, and a lot of our schools are not able to apply for VSAS, either. So we’re really stuck on what we can experience. And we also make up about 25% of the US healthcare workforce. So it’s not an insignificant percentage of health care, of physicians.
So we do want to make sure that all physicians, no matter what school you went to, have adequate, clinical experiences to become better physicians, and to also be able to test out a lot of other specialties to see what they’re going to be a better fit for. And that’ll hopefully, the goal is anyway, in that aspect, is to decrease burnout, and decrease transferring between specialties.
So, kind of Long Story Short was, I had my third and fourth year rotations, my elective rotations done through a placement agency. And I had a terrible, terrible experience with them, it was very expensive, and I didn’t even get the last couple. So I started reaching out to physicians to ask if they would let me do a rotation there. And since then, my network has grown. And I help students manually do this all the time, and it was too much to really continue on with. So like, Alright, I’m gonna make an app that everyone can just go to and take care of it themselves. So we kind of modeled it after Airbnb. So you have the physicians, or the hospitals go on, sign up as like, the host. And then the students go on as the guests, or renter, and just kind of do everything through automation. And because of that, it’s a lot cheaper, we don’t have a huge workforce that has to be paid, like the paper pushers or rotation agencies have to. If you’re a hospital admin, this automates a lot of the process. So it’ll reduce your workload. So hopefully, this is going to be something that will help a lot of different professionals and students in all kinds of walks of life.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s awesome. Because first you went from the Khan Academy of Medical Education. And now you’re going into the Airbnbs of Finding A Rotation.
Chase DiMarco: Yeah, it’s interesting. And my 10 year plan a few years ago was to come out with the first free online medical school. And now the pandemic, I’m wondering who’s going to beat me to it, because everything’s moving digital anyway. But that’s one of the systems I was really antiquated too, is, we just weren’t using many types of educational advancements and technologies in medical school when we really should have and reduce the workload. We’re not supposed to be professional lectures. Doctors should not be up there giving the same lecture every semester. So automate that stuff, and let them focus on like, one on one mentorship and tutoring. That’s really what they should be doing.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Yeah. I have a personal story. My first year of medical school, the Dean was like, I should try and experiment to see a four year medical education versus just one on one, this sort of mentoring type style and see who would come out faster and better. So I think you see so many needs. So many inefficiencies. Healthcare is ripe for disruption, there’s so many unnecessary regulations and unnecessary burdens and hurdles. So I think you’re really innovating. And it’s great, because technology, it’s easier to scale, there’s more margin, there’s more leverage, and you can really do and impact a lot more. So keep it up. Keep it up with the podcast. It’s really easy to achieve freedom much faster than pursuing just traditional clinical medicine. So kudos to you. If people want to find out more about you, contact you, if you I know you have books out and your podcast as well. Feel free to share that with the audience.
Chase DiMarco: Yeah, and unfortunately, because of the two different organizations, sometimes I’m not sure which information to give. But if you search, Find A Rotation on any social media, you’ll find it, Find A Rotation.com. For the clinical app, we are coming out with a mobile app, hopefully in the next few months as well. But right now, there’s a web app in beta testing. So we’re almost out of that phase. And me on social media is Chase DiMarco on pretty much every platform. So if you just search my name or search the organization, you will find it. I don’t have a centralized location, unfortunately, because there’s just too many links.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: And to the viewers, I’ll put all the shownotes all the resources and links to Chase’s, podcast websites, all of his books and information. I’ll put them in the notes. And so, Chase, what are your parting words to our guests?
Chase DiMarco: Parting words? Well, because this is a heavily physician based audience, I want to say that a lot of physicians like to focus on the later parts of health care and not so much on education. Once they get out of it. It’s such a traumatic experience, they’re like, oh, I don’t want to go back and revisit that. But that’s where medicine starts, the foundation of the whole healthcare system is education. So I would say if you have the opportunity to do so, get involved in medical education as much as you can, and create the future physicians you want to see.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: That’s awesome. We need more medical educators, more medical innovators, such as yourself. We need them starting earlier, before medical school, so that when they’re in medical school, they can start to affect and change a system and make the profession better. So, thanks. It was an awesome interview. I really enjoyed it. Thanks so much for coming on. And we’ll continue to follow your progress.
Chase DiMarco: Sounds good. Thank you for having me on.
Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD: Many thanks again for being here. If you’re new, you can find me online at Christopher H. Loo, MD-PhD, where I have links to other episodes or links to online resources that will support you on your financial literacy journey. I’ll see you there in on next week’s show. While I bring you thoroughly vetted information on this show regarding a variety of financial topics, I cannot promise you a one size fits all solution. This is why I caution you to continue to learn. Educate yourself and seek professional advice unique to your situation. If you want to talk to me, I welcome it. Please reach out via my website or email at ChristopherLooMDPhD@gmail.com. I read and personally respond to all of my emails. Talk soon!
Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.